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Suicide machine sparks outrage

  • Story Highlights
  • German ex-politician invents "suicide machine" for terminally ill who want to die
  • Device is modified perfusor, machine normally used to inject medicine
  • Politicians, medical community and churches are outraged by the invention
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By CNN's Berlin Bureau Chief Frederik Pleitgen
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BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A former top-level German politician has invented what he calls a "suicide machine" for terminally ill patients who want to die.

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Roger Kusch says terminally ill people should not have to travel to another country to fulfil their death wish.

"It is the most bearable method for those with a death wish," Roger Kusch told CNN at a presentation of the machine.

The device is a modified perfusor, a machine normally used to inject medicine over a long period of time, and Kusch has installed a button that allows the patient to set off the mechanism.

Kusch believes that way the patient is technically killing himself, protecting doctors who would assist by mixing the toxins and setting up the device.

According to Kusch's method, the suicide machine would administer an anesthetic and a lethal dose of potassium chloride, which would lead to death within minutes.

German politicians, the medical community and especially churches are outraged by Kusch's presentation of the killing machine. What do you think about the suicide machine?

"It is against the spirit of our ethics, the spirit of our ethical tradition, the spirit of the Christian image of a human person and against the spirit of our law," Wolfgang Huber, the head of Germany's Lutheran Church, told CNN.

Huber says society must help terminally ill patients deal with their pain rather then accepting suicide as an option.

"To those who criticize me, I say: it is none of your business," Kusch said angrily when confronted with the criticism. He says churches and politicians are using phony and cynical arguments and that he believes a majority of Germans have already accepted assisted suicide as an option.

"There are people who are suffering, and who can't deal with the pain anymore, and I want to help those people."

The presentation of Kusch's machine comes as Europe is engulfed in a debate about assisted suicide, sparked by the apparent self-killing of Chantal Sebire in France on March 19.

Sebire suffered from a rare facial tumor and had petitioned French courts and the French government to allow doctors to put an end to her life. She was found dead shortly after losing her case in France's top court.

Like in many other European countries, actively assisted suicide is illegal in Germany and doctors who help terminally people die face jail. Many Germans travel to neighboring Switzerland where assisted suicide is not punished.

Kusch, Hamburg's former justice minister, says he wants to spare terminally ill people from having to undertake a long and difficult journey to another country to fulfil their death wish.

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And while many German politicians say the suicide machine is nothing but a sick publicity stunt, Kusch says his goal is to offer terminally ill people an option.

"My motives are strictly humanitarian," he told CNN, adding that he does not plan to patent or potentially sell the machine, but that he would lend it those wanting to die, only after a strict medical and psychological evaluation. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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